NEW DELHI: It was a good day for the BJP in Nagaland and Meghalaya. But it was a Super Saturday for the saffron party and its ally Indigenous People's Front Of Tripura (IPFT). The combine created the multiplier effect that dealt more damage to the Left than was thought possible.
The BJP won 35 of the 59 seats that went to the polls, while ally IPFT picked up 8 to make a total tally of 43 seats. The BJP had blanked in 2013, and the IPFT - existing in a different form - also struck out. The Congress disintegrated to a zero from the 10 seats it won in the last election. On the other hand, the Left scored only 16 seats. That's a massive drop from the whopping 50 it won in 2013.
The massive loss of seats was not reflected in the loss of votes. The Left had won 51.7 percent of the vote in 2013, and picked up 83 percent of the seats. Now, it got 44.9 percent of the votes and 27 percent of the seats. The lost vote share was 6.8 percent.
What undid the Left seems to have been a swing away from it, combined with a consolidation of the votes on the other side. In 2013, the vote share of the Congress was 36.5 percent, BJP scored just 1.5 percent and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) got 7.6 percent. But this time, the BJP and IPFT together won 50.5 percent of the votes. The Congress won a token 1.8 percent. This consolidation of votes in one single camp against the Left was the force multiplier, considering there was hardly a difference in the individual vote shares of the CPM and the BJP - 42.7 percent and 43 percent respectively.
Addressing a victorious press conference soon after the results became clear, BJP president Amit Shah noted that the BJP had won 35 on its own, while the halfway mark was 31. But, he said, the BJP would not break faith with its track record. "As has been our history, we will not break with the allies with whom with fought the elections. The IPFT will very much be part of the government we form in Tripura," he said.
The BJP was faced with a similar question after it scored past the halfway mark on its own in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But the party had brought ally Shiv Sena as a partner in the government anyway.
The dramatic victory in Tripura has made it the second state in the Northeast where the BJP will be the senior partner in government - along with allies it stormed to power in Assam last year.
With this, the BJP managed to unseat CPM's Manik Sarkar as Chief Minister. Sarkar has been CM of Tripura from 1998, and the Left has ruled since 1993. "The sun is red when it is setting. But when it rises, it turns saffron," declared Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday evening. Apparently, Tripura has been washed with yellow.
This was a bastion that fell, leaving the Left all the more vulnerable.